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Environmentalists and boaters are squabbling after the U.S. Forest Service announced rules for boating on a stretch of the Chatooga River through the end of April, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
Three environmental groups — Georgia Forest Watch, the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club and Wilderness Watch — filed motions demanding the Forest Service stop letting boaters on the Upper Chattooga, a national wild and scenic river. (The northern reaches of the river are in the Nantahala National Forest in Jackson and Macon counties, North Carolina.)
The Forest Service released a notice Tuesday saying that beginning March 16 (Friday) boaters with permits may float the upper segment of the Chattooga River when flows are high enough.
Boating is allowed on the main stem of the upper segment of the Chattooga between the confluence of Green Creek in North Carolina and one-quarter mile downstream of the Lick Log Creek confluence in South Carolina from December 1 to April 30 when water levels are high enough.
Tuesday's news release restates policy that has existed since before the Forest Service announced in February that it had decided to continue a year-round ban on boating between Lick Log Creek and Georgia Highway 28.
"The basis of the environment group appeal is that the Forest Service decision violates environmental laws and would cause damage to water quality, soils, riverbank and solitude experienced by visitors to the Upper Chattooga River, which runs through the Ellicot Rock Wilderness," the Citizen-Times says.
Meanwhile, American Whitewater, a boater access and river conservation group based in Cullowhee, demanded immediate and total access to the 21 miles of the Upper Chattooga, “to the same extent that existing uses are allowed.”
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